Tennessee Titans Have the Best Quarterback Situation in the AFC South

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 24: Marcus Mariota /

The Titans boast the best QB room in the AFC South in 2017. Let’s see how the Titans QB situation stacks up with the rest of the division.

The AFC South has been mired in subpar quarterback play for quite some time. Apart from Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and Matt Schaub (for a brief period), few players at the QB position in the AFC South have been a model of consistency. The Tennessee Titans have experienced their fair share of poor quarterback play in the last decade.

The first offender was Vince Young. Young provided only one great season when he led the Titans to the postseason in 2007. Following Young’s stint with the team, the likes of late-career Matt Hasselbeck, first round bust Jake Locker, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Charlie Whitehurst, and Zach Mettenberger suited up for the Titans in four years.

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This year, however, the Titans prove the exception to the rule with Marcus Mariota acting as the standard of quarterback play to which the other teams in the division strive. In his first two years with the team, Mariota has subverted the common notion that spread system quarterbacks can’t succeed at a high level in the NFL. After an up-and-down rookie year, Mariota truly came into his own in his sophomore season with 3426 yards and a 26:9 TD to INT ratio in 15 games. Now heading into 2017, the Titans upgraded Mariota’s receiving corps by signing Eric Decker and drafting Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith.

Although Mariota suffered a leg injury in Week 16, he is ahead of schedule in his recovery, as reported by Lindsay Rhodes of NFL Network, and Mariota now heads into training camp at full strength. Mariota already performed at an above average level for the Titans in 2016. Now, with another year under his belt, as well as an upgraded receiving corps, he should look to make the leap and become a top 10 quarterback in the league. Mariota displays the utmost of promise and potential entering his third year, but other teams in the division aren’t so lucky. Let’s examine the other quarterbacks in our division, so that Titans fans can more fully appreciate how lucky the Titans are to employ Marcus Mariota.

Indianapolis Colts Quarterback: Andrew Luck


Of all the other quarterbacks in the division, Andrew Luck makes the best case to be considered the top quarterback in the division heading into the 2017 season. Andrew Luck is more experienced with three 4,000 yard seasons and a 40 TD season on his resume. He has also led his team to the postseason three times and the AFC Championship once. Unfortunately, despite being given several high draft picks to work with on offense, he hasn’t been able to carry his team to the playoffs in recent years due to the poor roster building of former GM Ryan Grigson.

Andrew Luck’s availability for training camp and the beginning of the season also remains in question following his offseason shoulder surgery. As reported by Kevin Bowen at Colts.com, Luck has yet to reach the throwing portion of his rehab program and has been unable to throw since January. No timetable has been established for Luck’s return as of the beginning of this month, so Luck could miss a substantial portion of training camp. This would affect his availability at the start of the season. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts “still expect Luck back for Week 1, but he has considerable rust to knock off”.

Although an argument can be made that Luck has been the best quarterback in the division since he was drafted in 2012, his lingering shoulder injury and inability to throw less than two months before the NFL season knocks him down a few pegs in 2017, which is why Mariota should be considered the top quarterback option in the AFC South heading into this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback: Blake Bortles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JANUARY 01: Blake Bortles /

The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the unfortunate distinction of having the worst quarterback situation in the division. Like Mariota and Luck, Blake Bortles is a former top 5 pick, but unlike Luck and Mariota, Bortles has failed to live up to the expectations that come with such a high selection. Bortles had a breakout year in 2015, but most of his stats came in garbage time. He went into 2016 with high expectations on a talented roster. However, Bortles crashed and burned in 2016, which led to 3-13 record.

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Typically, wins aren’t a good indicator of team success, but in some games, Bortles seemed to be actively holding back an otherwise talented roster. At the end of the 2016 regular season, Bortles has the same number of pick-sixes as career wins. Bortles experienced a career low in interceptions last season, but that’s not saying much since he still had 16 interceptions. New Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin inherited Bortles when he took the job, and thus doesn’t have any loyalty to the former 3rd overall pick. If Bortles can’t drastically improve his performance in 2016, Coughlin and the Jaguars will likely look for a new arm in next year’s draft.

Houston Texans Quarterback: Deshaun Watson/Tom Savage

PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 27: (L-R) Deshaun Watson of Clemson poses with Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell after being picked
PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 27: (L-R) Deshaun Watson of Clemson poses with Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell after being picked /

The youngest quarterback in the division is rookie Deshaun Watson. The Texans traded up in the draft and surrendered a future first round pick to acquire Watson. Watson was lauded by many as the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft after he won the college football championship, but despite this, the Texans appear willing to hand Tom Savage the starting job as per Toro Times writer Paul Jackiewicz. Mike Florio at NBC Sports reports that DeAndre Hopkins says that Savage “has earned it” in regards to the starting quarterback spot.

The Texans clearly weren’t inspired by Savage’s three game audition in 2016 with 0 touchdowns, so they sacrificed two first round picks for Deshaun Watson. Yet, they seem hesitant to allow the rookie to start. It’s often said that when a team has two starting quarterbacks, they really have none.

The Texans quarterback situation is shockingly reminiscent of the LA Rams in 2016, in which a highly touted rookie (Jared Goff and Watson) was given time to “develop” behind a lackluster veteran (Savage and Case Keenum). This stunted Goff’s development massively and could do the same to Watson if the Texans follow the same path. Although Watson may take his lumps at the beginning of the season as a rookie starter, it’s better for it to happen at the beginning rather than the middle of the season, à la Jared Goff, when the Texans are fighting for a playoff spot.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, when surveying the other quarterbacking situations in the AFC South, it is self-evident that the Titans have the best quarterback situation in the division. Injury, inexperience, and general ineptitude all detract from the other quarterback rooms in the AFC South. Hopefully, after reflecting on the less than impressive starting quarterbacks in our very own division, Titans fans can better appreciate how fortunate the team is to employ such a talented and productive quarterback in Marcus Mariota as the Titans rise to prominence for the first time in nearly a decade.

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